How many times have you been told to just use Adobe keyword search to find your clients’ documents? Adobe keyword search is definitely a useful tool, but should not be the only tool when you are looking through thousands of documents with varying levels of clarity. In our experience, documents range from crystal clear to having been scanned so many times they are very difficult to read. Adobe keyword search is only as good as the document itself, which often times is not very good.
We have found that the Adobe keyword search can be a valuable place to start, but not an end product. The Adobe keyword search will give you results and documents to start looking through so that you can at least begin sifting through all of the discovery in the case. We prefer an “eyes on” approach for all documents, and here is why.
Even clear documents can have issues with the keyword search. There have been many times a document seemed clear enough to use the search function, but naked to the human eye in the middle of the word there is an extra space thrown in, which means that Adobe cannot pick that word up. For example, let’s say your client’s last name is Smith, but somehow the OCR processes it as “Sm ith” so when you go to that document and type in “Smith” your clients name will not come up. Adobe sometimes even misplaces letters with numbers so Smith in the keyword search is being registered as “Sm1th”, which again would not come up when you search “Smith”. These issues could lead to multiple documents being missed that contain your clients name and could be vital to their representation.
Adobe also cannot pick up on handwriting so if there are any handwritten documents, they will not be included in the search results. We have received so many handwritten documents that can hardly be read by a person, so how can we expect a machine to be able to read them? Another thing Adobe cannot pickup is text in photos, so all of those search warrant photos that include house numbers and personal information of the occupants will not be included in any of the search results from Adobe.
We hope this gives you some good insight so that next time you hear “just use Adobe keyword search” you have a better understanding of what exactly that tool can provide and what it can’t. An “eyes on” approach will give you accurate search results for your clients’ name so that you know you have all of the documentation referencing them. Help us in giving every defendant and defense attorney access to all documentation pertaining to them and not just what shows up in a keyword search.